Kody Malmborg, Jr., did what many doubters thought was
impossible on Saturday, March 24: go over the top of Exhibition Run at Snow
King on a four-stroke snowmobile at the Jackson Hole World Championship Snowmobile
Hillclimb put on by the Jackson Hole Snow Devils.
But top the mountain he did, powering his Yamaha FX Nytro
MTX to the top of the steep course as the first four-stroke to do so in the 37
years the event has been held, while also becoming the first Yamaha to qualify
for the Pro finals since 2001. In all, out of nearly 500 entries, only 60 or 70
made it over the top.
The Jackson Hole World Championships are, as one observer
put it, the Daytona of snowmobile events, and the mountain course practically
defies description. It presents itself as a nearly vertical face of about a
half-mile in length, with 28 gates that the machines and drivers have to
negotiate on the way up. Favoring immense horsepower, traction, responsive handling
and of course major riding talent, the course quickly weeds out all but the
"It's basically like driving up a skyscraper," Yamaha
snowmobile marketing manager Wade West said.
Friday was reserved for Semi-Pro finals and Stock qualifying
with Saturday scheduled for the big-horsepower modified and Pro sleds like
Malmborg's FX Nytro and Sunday reserved for the Pro finals. Even with the FX
Nytro's extreme horsepower and torque, the conditions were so challenging that
Malmborg was making it just past halfway up during most of the classes he had
entered. The breakthrough came on Saturday afternoon, during qualifying for the
Mod 700 Pro event.
"The course conditions on the bottom half were slushy and
the top was really icy with rocks and stumps, five-foot ruts and six-foot
trenches," Malmborg said. "When I left the gate everything felt great and I
just told myself to stay calm and work through every gate, look ahead and pick
my lines, use the trenches to my advantage and carry my momentum. I was definitely
exited to make it over the top of one of the most challenging hills anywhere.
There was definitely some hollering going on."
In Sunday's Pro finale, Malmborg finished eighth among the
world's 25 top hillclimbers after encountering a few problems on his way up the
course. But his achievements on Saturday had already made history for Yamaha,
for four-stroke snowmobiles and for Malmborg's newfound career in hillclimbing.
"Our goal was just to get one sled over the top at Jackson Hole and we are elated to be the first
four-stroke in history and the first Yamaha team to do it since 2001," said
Yamaha's Eric Josephsen. "Doing it on our first try makes it even more
incredible and I really want to thank our crew chief `Big Kody' Malmborg for
working so hard to make it happen. I've always said that the FX Nytro can do
everything that a two-stroke sled can do and today we proved it."